The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the foreseeable future due to shoulder and rib injuries suffered in the team's win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, meaning journeyman backup Byron Leftwich will take the helm when the Steelers face division foe Baltimore on Sunday evening.
Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, now a commentator for NBC, pointed out the problematic differences with Leftwich under center rather than Roethlisberger:
"They've got to have Ben on the field. One thing about him, to be able to extend plays and get outside the pocket, that's when he's at his best. When you lose that element of the game and put Byron in there, a guy who is less mobile, now everybody can just pin back their ears and go with the pass rush and the blitz."
Nothing Ward said is false or a surprise, and the Steelers will need to do a much better job of protecting Leftwich in the pocket if they hope to take down the Ravens and force a tie atop the division with identical 7-3 records.
Leftwich has thrown 14 passes this year, completing 7 of those throws for 73 yards. In his 10-year career, he has thrown for over 10,000 yards with 58 touchdowns and 41 interceptions.
Kickoff between the Steelers and Ravens is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday night from Heinz Field. The game will be televised on NBC.